Friday, March 2, 2018

Friday Morning Skate, WCHA Playoff Edition

The postseason begins today!

Minnesota State will host Alaska in a best-of-three WCHA quarterfinal series at the Verizon Center. The top-seeded Mavericks would like to be the first team to get its name etched on the new Jeff Sauer Trophy as the league playoff champs, even though they don't need a playoff title to make the NCAA tournament, as they did the last two years when they fell short. For seniors C.J. Suess and Brad McClure, they'll try to draw on their experiences — both good and bad — in the postseason.

Read more about the matchup with the eighth-seeded Nanooks — the last team to beat the Mavericks — here.

Also, before fully moving to the playoffs, take a second to appreciate MSU's MacNaughton Cup run.

Here's a little more on Alaska from the Fairbanks Daily News Miner.

Going around the WCHA (the other quarterfinal matchups) ...

Alabama Huntsville at Northern Michigan: The second-place Wildcats are hosting a playoff series for the first time in six years and playing a seventh-place Chargers team they've split with twice during the regular season. Here's a series preview from

Ferris State at Bowling Green: The Falcons are the tournament's third seed and, like MSU, have had their share of playoff success, winning their first-round series each year they've been in the new WCHA. Bowling Green, is coming in hot, having won eight of its last 10, swept Ferris State, the playoffs' sixth seed, in their only meeting during the regular season. The Toledo Blade's John Wagner takes a closer look at the series.

Michigan Tech at Bemidji State: The fourth-place Beavers are feeling good heading into the postseason, especially after tying MSU last Saturday. Two weeks earlier, they split a series at Michigan Tech. The fifth-seeded Huskies, meanwhile, are the defending playoff champions, having beaten Bowling Green in double-overtime in last year's championship. They say the key to moving on is beating Beavers goalie Michael Bitzer.

College Hockey News' WCHA preview focuses on Minnesota State. USCHO also has a playoff preview.

In other WCHA news, Lake Superior State gave coach Damon Whitten a four-year contract extension on Thursday. That's an interesting move for a couple of reasons: 1. The other coach who didn't make the playoffs, Alaska Anchorage's Matt Thomas, was fired on Wednesday. 2. The last time the Lakers didn't make the postseason, they fired their coach, Jim Roque.

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